March 21, 2017

Indy's Only Detox Center For The Homeless Fills Treatment Gap

About 65 agencies in the community help bring people in need to the Reuben Engagement Center. - Leigh DeNoon

About 65 agencies in the community help bring people in need to the Reuben Engagement Center.

Leigh DeNoon

A number of social service groups gathered Tuesday to advertise their services at the only substance-abuse detox center for homeless people in Indianapolis.

The Reuben Engagement Center opened in January. The 30-bed, 24-hour facility is owned and operated by the city, and offers anyone experiencing both homelessness and drug or alcohol problems a place to get help.

Executive director Carl Rochelle says the center has seen double the amount of people in March that it saw in the previous two months combined.

Rochelle says while the Reuben Center focuses on withdrawal care, it also works to find the root cause of each individual’s problem and work with local service providers to address it.

“What we see so far, a lot that have experienced some type of childhood trauma, some type of significant trauma, or multiple traumas before their 18th birthday," Rochelle says. "We see people that either once had a very strong network of family and friends and now do not, or they never had a strong network before the age of 18, and they still do not.”

Rochelle says they see more alcohol addiction than drug abuse so far. And he says over 65 percent of the people they’ve seen since opening are currently in treatment.

“And that goes beyond just the initial detox, which could be one to two weeks," Rochelle says. "We’re talking into the transitional housing process, which can be as much as six months.”

Some of the groups that attended the Tuesday event include The Damien Center, The Julian Center, Covering Kids and Families of Indiana, and Partners in Housing.

Partners in Housing helps homeless and low-income residents find permanent housing. Executive Director Scott Armstrong says one-third of its clients come from the street, and that the Reuben Center helps groups like his with the difficult task of finding people in need.

Rochelle says a total of 65 agencies in the community help bring people to the Reuben Center. Without it, he says, members of the homeless population dealing with substance abuse would likely end up in emergency healthcare or in jail, neither of which can provide the specialized support they need.

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